Why, When, What Type, and How to Floss

Did you know that by simply brushing, you’re only getting 50% of the job done? That’s because when you brush the bristles can only reach 60% of your tooth’s surface. That means 20% between your teeth is a hot spot for bacteria that causes cavities and gum disease. When you don’t floss it gives the bacteria longer to build up and bind with your teeth creating a firm sticky substance known as plaque. Flossing, however, removes those food particles before they can harden into tartar, also known as calculus, which cannot be removed by regular flossing. After the tartar begins to build up it will take over the surface of the tooth under the gum line. Once there, tartar causes inflammation and irritation that leads to the development of gum disease.

When to Floss

Now that we know why we should floss; do you know why only 4 in 10 Americans floss every day? The largest percent says that it’s too time-consuming but once you get the hang of it, flossing takes just a couple minutes. Since we only floss once a day, it’s recommended to do it before you brush. When you floss after brushing all the loose plaque and bacteria floats around your mouth, giving it the chance to reattach to the tooth’s surface. So, at the very least, rinse your mouth.

 

How to Floss

We’ve got the basics down, why it’s important to floss, and when we should floss. Can you guess what’s next? That’s right, the correct way to floss. If you are flossing every day and still see a lot of plaque buildup, chances are you’re missing some crevices. When you floss incorrectly it can cause bleeding and damage to your gums and any surrounding dental work. Now before we get into the proper ways to floss, we really need to go over the different types of floss and what they are used for.

 

Types of FlossBody (2).png

  • Floss can come waxed or unwaxed and everyone can use it! It’s great to get those food particles in tight spaces. Typically, it comes rolled up in a small plastic box. Which makes flossing on the go much easier!
  • Dental Tape: This is similar to regular floss where it comes in either waxed or unwaxed. However, dental tape is much wider than floss and can clean more surface. If you have bigger hands or more space between your teeth, it’s recommended to use this.
  • Floss Picks: Are small plastic flossing sticks that are somewhat shaped like a candy cane. Used in the same way regular floss is, floss picks make it easier for people with less dexterity and they are great for kids!
  • Floss Threader: This is a firm stick with a loop at the end. It is used to thread the floss through dental appliances, which can make some teeth hard to reach. Typically, floss threaders are used with braces or bridges.
  • Interdental Brush: This is a pick with wired or non-wired bristles at the tip. These can be used for regular flossing; however, they are also useful in cleaning dental implants and braces.
  • Superfloss: Has a floss threader at one end, regular floss in the middle, and a soft spongy floss at the other end. The thread is used to pull the floss between an appliance then the regular floss is used on the adjacent tooth. The spongy floss is then used to clean around an implant-supported bridge or under a normal bridge.
  • Wooden Plaque Remover: Looks a lot like a toothpick but it has a tapered end with a triangular shape. Set the tapered end in your mouth for a few seconds to soften it. Then place the softened side between your teeth with the flat side on your gums. This is to stimulate blood flow which helps fight gum disease. Gently move the pick in and out to break up any food particles and disturb any forming plaque. This can be used by anyone and is preferable for flossing on the go.
  • Body (1).pngWater Flosser: The water flosser is a different type of device known as an oral irrigator. Instead of manually scraping the plaque off, the water pressure does it for you! If you have braces it’s an easy way to make sure you are fully cleaning those pearly whites, however, anyone can use a water flosser.

How Really to Floss

  • Flossing: Pull 18-20 in of floss from the container, then loosely wrap it around both middle fingers. Make sure to leave at least 1-2 in of floss in the middle. Hold the floss taut with your thumb and index fingers and glide it gently up and down the side of your teeth. When you get to the gum line form a C-shape and slide the floss down. Finally, remove the floss and continue with the same method on the rest of your teeth.
  • Flossing with Braces: It’s recommended that you use waxed floss to avoid getting strands stuck in the brackets. Pull 18-24 in of waxed floss out of the container, thread it through the floss threader and carefully pull it through the wire; then continue to floss as normal. You can also use interdental brushes by pushing the bristles in an out 2-3 times for every tooth.
  • Flossing Dental Implants: Since implants can’t decay the plaque will still stick which can cause swelling and implant failure known as Peri-implantitis. This means it is still vital to floss around your implant. Use a non-wired interdental brush to avoid scratching the titanium or porcelain. Gently push it in and out 2-3 times, then continue to floss the rest of your teeth.
  • Flossing a Dental Bridge: Start by pushing the threader end of Superfloss through the space between the bridge and the real tooth. Use the regular floss on the real tooth, then gently slide the super floss under the bridge 2-3 times and repeat on the other side. After, floss the rest of your teeth normally.
  • Flossing Implant-Supported Bridges: Use Superfloss to thread the spongy floss under the bridge, and gently use the spongy side to clean around the titanium implants. You can also use a non-wired interdental brush to clean them.
  • Flossing and Cleaning Implant-Supported Overdentures: Remove the dentures from your mouth, brush the dentures with detergent and place them in water. Then take a one-tuff brush and gently clean around the part of the implant that sits above your gums, commonly known as an abutment.

 

Flossing is simple, yet so crucial for your dental health. Remember, the floss most dentists recommend is any type that you will use every day!

 

 

 

Dr. Ernesto Mireles

Greenfield and Salinas Dental Implant Center

608 E. Boronda Rd., Suite B
Salinas, CA 93906
(831) 443-3524
            and
696 Walnut Ave., #1
Greenfield, CA 93927
(831) 674-5501

5 Tips for Creating Healthy Oral Hygiene Habits

Lead by Example

Family BrushingKids look to their parents to set standards in all things, including oral hygiene. How you behave is how they will act. Since the best way to teach children is by example, it is important that your child sees you brushing twice a day and flossing. Include your child in the process. Do it together, allowing them to help by putting toothpaste on your brush. Your demeanor in the dentist office will also influence how your little one behaves during their own visit. Remaining calm demonstrates that going to the dentist isn’t scary, and they’ll be much more cooperative during their own chair time.

Make Brushing Fun

Making brushing and flossing a game rather than a chore can be a great way to engage with your kids and get them excited about maintaining their oral health. Pretending the tooth brush is a hiker exploring a cave (their mouth) and the floss is a rope is one idea. Older kids can benefit from a reward system. Every time they brush their teeth they receive a gold star to add to a sticker chart. Once they get a certain number they’re rewarded with something like staying up an extra half hour past bedtime or extra 15-minutes of electronics time.

Make a Visual Statement

plaqueDisclosingFind plaque disclosing products. These usually come in tablet form or mouthwash that turns plaque buildup bright colors. This is a great visual to help kids understand that even though they don’t see the plaque, it’s certainly there!

Teach Responsibility

Older kids get excited about the idea of having more responsibility. Provide them with the necessary tools to structure their oral hygiene routine. Have them set an alarm to alert them when it’s time to brush for bed and in the morning. They can even keep a brushing and flossing log to track the times and duration of their sessions.

Start Dental Visits Early

Finger-Family-No-BackgroundTeaching kids proper dental practices wouldn’t be complete without bi-annual exams. By visiting us regularly, you instill the importance of consistent exams. We love working with children, and we work hard to make the experience stress free and fun for the whole family.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Ernesto Mireles
Greenfield and Salinas Dental Implant Center

608 E. Boronda Rd., Suite B
Salinas, CA 93906
(831) 443-3524
            and
696 Walnut Ave., #1
Greenfield, CA 93927
(831) 674-5501

April: Oral Cancer Awareness Month

APRIL 2015

Early Detection Saves Lives

Oral cancer is nothing to take lightly.  Causing one death every hour, there will be approximately 45,750 new cases diagnosed this year alone.  It also tends to strike men twice as likely as women.

Contributing factors of oral cancer include:

  • Smoking
  • Tobacco use
  • Excessive alcohol consumption (3+ drinks per day)
  • Over exposure to UV light
  • HPV Virus (sexually transmitted)

7% of diagnosed oral cancer cases that have no identified cause

Smokers are 3 times more likely to develop oral cancer.  Cigars and pipes pose a higher risk than standard cigarettes.

This is how to reduce your risk of oral cancer:

  • Brush & floss regularly
  • Do not use tobacco products
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation
  • Limit sun exposure and always use SPF sunscreen
  • Regular exercise
  • Nutritional supplements ( Vitamin D, Vitamin B, Zinc, Fish oil)
  • Oral cancer screening at your bi-annual dentist exam and cleaning

Cancer FightingThe way you prepare your meals can play a role as well.  Rather than frying food, give steaming or baking a try!  Bonus: these techniques are also more figure friendly

Cancer fighting foods:

  • Beans
  • Berries
  • Vegetables
  • Flaxseed
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Green Teas
  • Tomatoes

84% of oral cancer cases can be detected early by your dentist

Dental check-ups are vital to oral cancer detection.  Yes, you should be going in for dental check-ups twice a year anyways; however, request you get regularly scheduled oral cancer screenings as well!

Oral Cancer - spotOral Cancer Signs to Check at Home

  • Check the entirety of your mouth:
  • All the way inside of your cheeks
  • Underside and top of your tongue
  • Roof of your mouth
  • Lymph nodes

You’re looking for discoloration, lumps, asymmetrical swelling or any other abnormalities that you happen to see.  Even if you aren’t too sure about it, it never hurts to give us a call, ask questions and come in to have it checked out.

Get involved.  Help raise awareness.  Spread the word.  Get tested!

Dr. Ernesto Mireles

Salinas Dental and Implant Centers

608 E. Boronda Rd., Suite B
Salinas, CA 93906
(831) 443-3524

and

696 Walnut Ave., #1
Greenfield, CA 93927
(831) 674-5501